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Griffen Using Versatility, Enhanced Study to Adjust to New Vikings Role

EAGAN, Minn. — Everson Griffen didn't start Sunday, but he ended up playing 34 defensive snaps against the Seahawks — the same amount as starter D.J. Wonnum.

And he was all over the place, too, putting his versatility on display against the Seahawks.

According to analytics website Pro Football Focus, Griffen lined up for 22 snaps at the right defensive end spot and one at left defensive end. But he was also at defensive tackle for 10 snaps, with PFF recording one snap for him at inside linebacker, too.

It's a bit of a different role early in the season for Griffen, who has 88 career starts in Purple, but he is adjusting well to it.

"It doesn't really feel like that. I'm not starting," Griffen said when asked about his role. "But D.J.'s doing a great job, him and D [Danielle Hunter], they're doing a great job. They asked me to come in and do my part, and I'm going to come in and do my part.

"Yeah, I'm just here to help in any way, inside, outside, just trying to get a feel of I'm just not studying one guy. In the past, I used to just study the left tackle," Griffen added. "Now I've got to study the guard, I've got to study the center, I've got to study the other guard, I've got to study everybody because I'm moving around the whole offensive line. Wherever they have me go and wherever they have me play, I just need to keep on getting in my groove and keep on helping this team win."

Griffen provided a spark to the Vikings defense in Week 3 with a second-half sack on Russell Wilson. The play energized the crowd of 66,729 at U.S. Bank Stadium and prompted Griffen to break out his 'Sack Daddy' dance.

He credited the entire defensive line for helping him break through to Wilson. Griffen ranks seventh all-time in franchise history with 75.5 career sacks after recording his first as a Viking since Dec. 8, 2019.

"Dalvin [Tomlinson] got up the field. I worked my hesitation with my spin and Dalvin, I thought Dalvin had him, and I just came off it and Russell had nowhere to go," Griffen said. "It takes four guys to get a sack, and everybody rushed well on that.

"[Hunter] had a good outside rush," Griffen said. "I think Mike [Pierce] pushed up him the middle and Dalvin got in his face right away, and I just came around and it worked out beautiful."

PFF gave Griffen a grade of 63.1 for his performance Sunday, an improvement from his Week 1 return that received a 52.0 grade on 28 snaps.

In between those games, however, Griffen was sidelined with a concussion due to a freak car accident.

He was driving to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center on Sept. 16 when he swerved to avoid a deer.

"I was just coming to work early in the morning, going about 45-50 [miles per hour] on my highway and just cruising," Griffen said. "Deer hopped out in front of me and my natural reaction is to not hit anything, and I swerve, and I glanced and hit a tree and then I just went sliding.

"I was like two feet from the lake, so it was scary," Griffen added. "I'm a survivor, happy to be alive."

While Griffen had to miss a Week 2 game in his home state of Arizona, he said Monday he feels fully healthy.

"I went through the whole concussion protocol. I made sure to be real with it, to make sure I didn't have any symptoms before I came back," Griffen said. "The trainers here did a good job of making sure I did step-by-step, and I feel back. I feel good."

Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who helped Griffen make four Pro Bowls from 2015-2019, said the 33-year-old defensive end is rounding into his old form.

"Yeah, I thought he did well this week. He looked good to me," Zimmer said. "He looked like the old Everson. He rushed good. He rushed inside, rushed outside, played inside on a couple of early downs in the running game.

"I thought he did a good job," Zimmer added. "He showed some acceleration and things that he probably does well."

View the Vikings in "Big Head Mode" as the team defeated the Seahawks at U.S. Bank Stadium in their home opener.

Time will tell if Griffen will keep his current versatile and situational role along the defensive line, or if the Vikings perhaps insert him back into the starting lineup like years past.

Either way, Griffen just wants to keep progressing and helping the Vikings in the win column.

"I'm still working on getting back in my groove, still need to polish up some stuff," Griffen said. "It's not exactly where I want to be right now, but I'm getting there with the practice reps and game reps. I feel like I should be getting there.

"This week should be better than last week. Just keep on getting better and keep on building on the weeks, but my groove is coming," Griffen added. "I've just got to take it day-by-day and not get frustrated and just keep up with my normal routine and just keep on doing the right things, but my groove is coming. It's coming. It's only going to get better."